Current Reviews


Avengers: The Children's Crusade #4

Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011
By: Shawn Hill

Allan Heinberg
Jim Cheung, Mark Morales (i), Justin Ponsor (c)
Marvel Comics
Plot: Hulkling is part Skrull, part Captain Mar-Vell. Wiccan and Speed are part Scarlet Witch, at least they think so. Vision is partly his old self, partly Kang’s future tech. The Avengers have reassembled, just younger. Don’t tell Bendis.

Comments: Not a cool enough sounding title, huh? Doesn't have that "New" or "Secret" or "Adjectiveless" ring, right? Is the word on the street that this isn't the cool Avengers title? Or is it just that no one wants the actual Avengers anymore? My bookstore clerk wasn't impressed with my selection I noticed.

But that's what Heinberg and Cheung gave us with the original Young Avengers and it's what we're getting again in this sequel of equal quality. Many of the concerns and wounds from back then (caused by events like Disassembled, Civil War, New Avengers v.1) seem less pressing today, but the fallout of “Where's Wanda?” remains. Answer: She's in Latveria, about to marry Doctor Doom.

I like it. I'm all about it. It doesn't matter that it's bi-monthly. That's another nostalgia trip, in a way. Even Uncanny X-Men was bi-monthly until issue #112. It just means 18 months of Avengers goodness, with no-Bendis approved tie-ins in sight. Heinberg understands Wanda, even this amnesiac one. He gets what happened to her. He gets who she was before that.

Sure, she might marry Doctor Doom. He's the king of a small but powerful European country. She's a nomadic peasant. I totally buy Doom's story that she came to him seeking help for her people and he fell in love. That's what people do with Wanda.

Heinberg also gets Doom, in a way that the Fantastic Four movies totally failed to do. The last thing Victor needs is electricity powers. He's a scientist, sure, but not of Reed's ilk. He's an alchemist, with a dark (European) past. He's gothic castles and dungeons, while Reed and Sue and Ben and Johnny are all rocket ships and race cars and space platforms. He's the immigrant past young Americans flee when they remake themselves in their own desires. That's why he's demonic and that's why he understands Wanda instinctively.

Her Wiccan and the rest of the Young Avengers have tracked her down to rescue her from Doom. The Avengers of this continuity (the story's a little out of synch with the present and better for it) seek her in order to punish her for her crimes. Wolverine is a belligerent irritant with claws always popped, but like anyone's ever going to let him kill her. Just shut up, you annoying little man.

Cheung’s detailed pencils make sense of each of these figure filled scenes and let us keep track of the numerous players from beginning to end. He's something of a king of dramatic splash pages, this issue showcasing Doom casting a spell on Wiccan, Castle Doom as sussed out by the Avengers and Wonder Man, the Avengers when they confront the rebellious Young Avengers (incongruously allied with Magneto and Quicksilver, who have their own agendas towards Wanda), the all-out battle that ensues while Wanda dons her wedding gown, and a final surprise reveal. Cheung favors full body panels even in more crowded pages, and his calm, measured form of storytelling is always clear, full of detail, and frequently beautiful. He's a rare talent.

I've got a stake in whether Wanda is healed, or forgiven, or exiled further. But that's not the only reason I'm sticking around. This isn't just the Big Guns, or big catastrophic demonstrations of power (you'll find that in the Bendis titles, which are actually best when they're funny). And it isn't espionage. It's the tapestry of the Marvel universe, full of charismatic heroes and those who believe in their legacy.

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